People frequently contact me asking for advice concerning marriage problems. They may be having issues over things like how to raise children, money, communication, or disparity over the frequency of sex, division of domestic duties, and so on. Typical marriage problems are actually pretty simple to fix. Some couples reach out when they are in the early stage of needing help and those cases are fairly easy to deal with.
It would be like finding a cancerous lump somewhere on your body and going to the doctor right away to be treated. Medical professionals do wonders and can often cure the problem if you catch it in the early stages. It would be silly—although some people do it—to just sit and wait and wait and wait until your entire body is covered with tumors and then go into the doctor’s office. He or she would wonder why on earth you didn’t do something right away. Why didn’t you come in when it was easier to take care of? Because you waited and delayed getting medical attention, there is now advanced cancer all over your body and it’s going to be very difficult to treat.
Such is the case with people who wait and wait and wait to deal with issues in their marriage. What started out as a manageable problem can turn into something extraordinarily difficult to untangle and solve if you let so much time go by. When you are struggling and having issues in your marriage, please don’t wait until it’s so bad that your marriage becomes terminal. Far too often people don’t want to let anyone else in on their troubles. They won’t tell their friends, family or pastor because they are embarrassed and don’t want anyone else to know that there is a storm going on in their lives. They won’t be real, so instead they put on a front, a show, a mask acting like all is well…when actually, all is hell.
Too many people won’t do anything to help the situation except to hope and wish and pray that it will change. Please don’t get me wrong—I absolutely believe in the power of prayer to change things. Of course you need to pray and ask for courage, strength and wisdom but you also need to do your part. It doesn’t work if the only thing you do is sit back and wait, wishing and hoping that things will get better or go away. Generally you have to do something to bring the issue to a head, force it out into the light, get some guidance and help from outside. Rarely does a problem change over time if all you do is sit there and put up with it.
It’s like pouring a batch of concrete—when you first dump it out, you can work with it to mold it and move it. You can spread it around, shape it, level it, and make changes so it looks like stone or brick. But once the concrete sets up and hardens, you will have a very difficult time making those changes. In fact, if you try to work with it in the same way, nothing will happen. It’s just not possible any more. An easy tool like a trowel or shovel won’t work—now you need something heavy duty like a jackhammer and it can lead to very bad results. The concrete needs to be hammered at and chiseled and can end up broken, chipped and shattered if you try to manipulate it in this hardened state. People would never pour a batch of concrete into a big pile and then sit back and say, “I’m just going to pray about the concrete. I’ve tried to tell the concrete how I feel and I hope it will respond. I ’m not sure what to do with it, but if I give it more time, it might change.” That would be extraordinarily foolish.
The same is true in relationship woes and troubles. If all you are doing is hoping and praying, but you are refusing to act, if you are just waiting for a miracle, then all you’re doing is allowing the concrete to set. By not confronting the situation it often becomes so entrenched, so hard and inflexible that it’s far more difficult to deal with and it can be extremely painful to do anything at this point. You need to work with it early before it becomes as hard as a rock or it will be a bigger problem and much worse because you waited.
That’s when people get fed up, walk away from the marriage, divorce their spouse and then they justify it saying, “I really tried!” Your friends and family will feel sorry for you and support you because it’s just so difficult to do anything at this point. The reality is you didn’t really try; all you did was let the concrete set. Don’t wait five, ten, twenty or more years before you do something—don’t even wait one year. Do something right away when issues arise. Don’t sit back and do nothing until the only option you have is to take a hammer and chisel to your spouse. (Figuratively speaking, of course!) So many people contact me once the concrete has set up and way too many years have gone by. Mind you, it’s not impossible, because nothing is impossible with God, but just like the concrete: It’s a lot easier to work with and make the changes before it becomes hard as a rock. Get the help you need to deal with the issues and behaviors before they become so painful and entrenched and too difficult to work out.